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News . Feature Stories . 140 Years of Community


August 30, 2023

140 Years of Community

Photo submitted by Linda Arbuckle ’81. See her memory below.

Compiled by Michael C. Butz and Alex Burrage

This past year, the Cleveland Institute of Art has been celebrating its landmark 140th anniversary. There are many ways to commemorate such an occasion, but we felt the best way was to invite alumni to share memories of the friendships forged during their years at CIA. After all, it's the community we've built together that's made CIA so special for more than a century.

From lifelong bonds and professional partnerships to creative connections and joyful memories, we thoroughly enjoyed the many ways alumni reminisced about their time at CIA.

Partners in life and business
I met Susan Spiranovich ’04 (Graphic Design) on our first day of drawing class in 1998. We moved to New York City after graduation in 2003 along with Dave Kelmer ’03 (Illustration) and Ryosuke Joe Matsumoto ’03 (Graphic Design). A decade later, Susan and I started our hand-blown glass brand KEEP ( and are now partners in business and in life! CIA has given us lifelong friends and extended family members who will forever be in our lives.
Adam Holtzinger ’03

A good TIME was had by all
Taking a break from the hummm of the computers in the TIME (Technology and Integrated Media Environment) lab and going for a walk to see friends in their studios. And getting lunch together at Mi Pueblo or the Food Co-Op across the street from the factory. Good times!
Amy Gardiner ’08
(See photo below.)

No going back to Dartmouth
I came to CIA as a transfer from Dartmouth, a place I found elitist and stifling. Working in the foundry one day, Carol Chiantis ’81 strolled in with cigarettes rolled in the sleeve of her T-shirt and a “don't f*** with me” look on her face. She lit a cigarette with the oxy-acetylene torch, flipped on her goggles and got to work. I knew immediately I wouldn't be going back to Dartmouth. As Joe McCullough (director at the time) had told me, “CIA is a place for people who know what they want to do.”
Andy Yoder ’82

“The Last Supper” (2016)
Freshman year lunch in 2016 after a trip to The Den. We dubbed this as our version of “The Last Supper.”
Ashli Hudson ’20
(See photo below.)

Enjoying a lifetime of inspiration
I met my dear friend Bea Mitchell ’80 in Julian Stanczak ’54’s drawing class at CIA. It was 1971. After graduation, we worked together once a week making art at her beautiful home for 25 years. Last year (October 12, 2022), she passed away leaving a wonderful body of work: sculpture, painting, mezzotints and poetry. She was such an inspiration!
Beth Nilges-Nehamkin ’76
(See photo below.)

Bad Movie Club = great outlet
One of my favorite things I did to get away from the ever-busy culture of CIA was to spend time away with my peers on campus, during Saturday nights at Bad Movie Club. It was a great outlet to build relationships and having the ability to take the time to get to know one another better by watching so many shlock-ey ’70s flicks. If we stuck around until midnight, we played a couple hours of video games on the classroom projector, mostly Jackbox games. Most of my favorite memories were from that club!
Brittany Batchelder ’19

A great illustration of friendship
Class of 2018 Biomedical Art students! I miss them and hope they are all doing well, and accomplishing amazing things!
Courtney Fleming 18
Biomedical Art
(See photo below.)

‘Lifestyles’ of creators and makers
We had an amazing final year at CIA: a sponsored project with Ford (where we stayed at the Ritz in Dearborn and saw Robin Leach), Tribe games (at Municipal Stadium) and absurd pranks (involving a lot of foam core)!
Dan Cuffaro 91
Industrial Design
(See photos below.)

Growing together in art and life
I met Ben Kinsley ’05 at CIA in Drawing second semester of second year, and we started dating the following year, in 2003. Twenty years later, we are still together forging new paths for ourselves as artists, trying to figure out how to support each other and grow together.
Jessica Langley ’05
(See photo below.)

Beat the clock to win design award
The 1970 Clean Air Competition entry built by CIA and Case Western Reserve University received Design Award. Core CIA team builders were Larry Nagode ’74 and John Breen ’73 and myself, with faculty Peter Zorn ’65 and Jon Bailey ’63 along with CWRU engineering students. The car was built from scratch in six months and tested at the General Motors proving grounds in Michigan. Chuck Jordan, head of GM Design, had visited the school for a student automotive project and said that we would not be able to complete it. We got a picture of him standing beside the car. GM subsequently sent a team of prototype builders to learn how we were able to pull Fiberglas molds directly from the clay buck.
Ken Foran ’74
Industrial Design
(See photo below.)

Bonding creative souls at CIA
Amidst the buzz of creativity and light beer, four friends found themselves huddled around the small table during an opening in the old Reinberger Gallery. The effervescence of the chilled brew mirrored the excitement in the room, as laughter and animated discussions filled the air. Amidst the celebration of artistic expression, they savored the camaraderie that united them, basking in the shared passion for art, friendship and the simple joy of being together. Matt Courtney (enigmatic Ceramics department studio technician) with students Jen Long ’94 with her infectious smile spreading positivity, Chelsea Woznak ’94 leaning into Jen’s embrace, feeling the camaraderie among them, while I sat comfortably beside Chelsea, a laid-back demeanor bonding them as creative souls intertwined in the vibrant tapestry of art and friendship.
Kevin Snipes ’94
(See photo below.)

Relationships meant everything
This photo was taken just moments after I finished my BFA defense. It capsulizes everything CIA meant to me—relationships with faculty, staff and students! It took a village to get me through the rigorous program and I cherish each and every one of you! An enlargement of this image hangs proudly in my studio.
Kimberly Chapman ’17
(See photo below.)

Friendship endures over decades
Julianne Edberg ’76, my CIA friend, and I reconnected after we both retired. How lucky I was. How lucky I am. Art school friends encourage support and question.
Leslye Discont Arian ’76
(See photo below.)

Learning from Judith Salomon
Ceramics class with Judith Salomon. From left: Judith, an unknown classmate, Pam Young ’81, Eddie Dominguez ’81, Julie Tesser ’81, Mike Sundra ’81, Deirdre Daw ’80, Caren Liebert ’81 in Ceramics studio.
Linda Arbuckle ’81
(See photo above.)

Bond lasts from high school to today
One of my closest friends at CIA was Jim Sullivan ’87, who I happened to be close friends with from Cleveland Heights High School. Though we were in different departments, I followed his progress and was proud of his accomplishments through today, across the continent, thanks to Facebook.
Linda Zolten Wood ’87
(See photo below.)

Creating close, lifelong friendships
There are four of us gals who met the first day of school in 1971 and became instant friends. We pursued different fields, but were great roommates for five-plus years. Throughout the past 45 years, we have remained loyal friends, confidants and support systems, sharing careers, families, joy and pain. Being one of the few females in Industrial Design, an intense and geographically confined field (in the original George Gund Building “The Basement”) created close, lifelong friendships with especially two colleagues. Both were pallbearers at my husband's funeral last year. There are others I miss dearly and consider friends I am very proud of. CIA helped create enduring relationships of love, respect, encouragement and responsibility for the welfare of others; from mutual interests, humor, and industriousness and discipline of the arts.
Lorene Gates-Spears ’76
Industrial Design

Treasuring lessons learned at CIA
First day, freshman year, Life Drawing: I was drawing the figure in a tiny space on the large white pad and using my thumb to create shadows. During the break, I walked around the room looking at dramatic compositions filling pages. What I treasure most is what I learned from my colleagues. But I was way too serious. Having children for a boss for 40 years has helped considerably.
Marc Brown ’69

Making friends on Day One at CIA
I made two friends on my first day of CIA in September 1960—Deborah Teas Lass ’64 and Barbara Sullivan Henry ’65. We've remained friends to this day, although we lost Debbie in 2016. We bonded over our shared dislike of Dimensional Drawing, a 1pm Monday lecture that taught us art school could be hard. We would barely make it back to campus on time after lunch but never considered playing hooky. We all managed to pursue our art careers throughout our lives, ending up in places we may never have expected but keeping our places in each others’ hearts.
Michelle Ruskin Braverman ’64
Graphic Design

Inspired to take risks with work
My first encounter with Tom Aprile ’76, a sculptor and passionate artist a few years ahead of me, inspired me to take risks with my work. Mary Anne O'Malley ’78’s precarious sculptural table setting made out of plaster and steel clearly showed me that anything was possible. All of us moved to NYC, where we continued our friendships, visiting each other’s studios frequently. Tina Limer ’78’s poetic larger-than-life paintings of teacups remain significant in my mind today. In fact, Tina and I still connect in similar ways as we did in the 1970s. Unfortunately, Tom and Mary Anne have passed away, but they remained lifelong friends.
Pamela Heller ’79

Touchdown! Scoring CIA friendships
Football. After classes were over, and sometimes at breaks, a few of us would go out to the open field behind the East Boulevard campus and have knock-down, drag-out tackle sandlot football. A lot of fun, many injuries. Games involved me, Doug Unger ’65, Ben Donatucci, Bill Wayland ’65, Mark Whitehouse, Bruce McCombs ’66 and other crazies. Those days are gone. Sad!
Ron Testa ’65
Photography/Advertising Art

Friendship grew and sustained
My friendship with Toshiko Takaezu started in 1957. I was on a working scholarship and maintaining her Ceramics Department was my assignment. Toshiko started teaching at Princeton and moved to New Jersey. By then, I was in nearby Philadelphia, which allowed me to see her frequently. Our friendship grew over her remaining years.
Ronald Rozewski ’67

Nurturing abilities, fostering friendships
Charlotte Merat ’22 and I, both Illustration majors, cemented a bond over rigorous projects at CIA. Starting in the same Orientation group, we became fast friends, and those four years of constant collaboration in a vibrant atmosphere transformed our friendship. Today, our paths remain intertwined as we work together on the whimsical world of Care Bears at Cloudco Entertainment. CIA not only nurtured our individual artistic abilities but also fostered a lifelong friendship and professional partnership.
Tori Sheese ’22
(See photo below.)

Finishing a critique? ‘Priceless!’
This was me and my fellow Industrial Design student, Merrie Dudley ’85. Photo from 1983 storming down the East Boulevard basement hallway right after a design critique. Best of times for sure. CIA experience was priceless!
Wayne Calco ’84
Industrial Design
(See photo below.)

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